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Who are Snowboarders?



While the TV commercials and "X" games make you think that snowboarders are teenagers, that isn't the case. Riders include people we call Grays on Trays, and they come in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s--and even 90s! Sometimes, they get the attention of the youngsters. They even arouse some envy, as in "I hope I will be able to do that in a few decades." (For example, see this discussion on Snowboard.com, which skews toward the younger end of snowboarders.)

Among the older riders you will find among professionals, parents, and, with time, perhaps yourself as well. Here are a few examples of "gray" riders. The ages give are those of the person when he or she was entered into the list or mentioned in the relevant publication. A few people were not mentioned in public forums, but explicitly gave permission to the editor of this site.

Older Snowboarders are Professionals

  • Jose Amaya is a 43-year old construction manager.

  • John Barylick, 56, is an attorney.

  • Chris Barker, 56, is a physician.

  • Wayne Braid (age not given) is a notary public, member of a local Rotary club, and a snowboarder.

  • Andrew E. Caputo, 39, is an orthopedist and hand specialist.

  • Biff Wayne Clark, an executive for a leading pharmaceutical company, began snowboarding in his mid-30s. One of his snowboarding dreams: a trip down the French alps.

  • Eric E. Coris, M.D. (age unknown), is associate professor in the departments of Family Medicine and Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and director of the Division of Primary Care Sports Medicine at the University of South Florida. Dr. Coris calls himself "a very bad snowboarder" and "slightly better downhill skier."

  • Barry Drake is a 37 year old accountant.

  • The Rev Neil Elliot, age 40, is a chaplain at University Central England. He is a rider, and working on a Ph.D. in sociology. His subject? "The Spirituality of Snowboarding." Says he: "'I knew for me snowboarding is one of the best ways to connect with God."

  • Tim Geithner, age 47, is the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

  • Lee Hieb, in her mid-to-late 50s, is an orthopaedic surgeon.

  • Don Kellam, an executive at a Texas-based investment firm, took up snowboarding at age 36.

  • Alex Kozinski is a 45-year old judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Davis Love III is a PGA Tour champion who likes to snowboard in Idaho.

  • Stephen J. Luczo, 58, is the chairman of the board of Seagate, and the company's former president.

  • Kevin Mahaney, a 43-year old real estate developer.

  • Sean Moyle is a middle-school principal.

  • Susan Maurice, 43, teaches sciece at a middle school.

  • Lester Priday, 53, is a real estate agent. He's well known within snowboarding and surfing circles.

  • Dan Quin, 41, is a math teacher. He says "The students don't think I snowboard."

  • John Robinson, 65, is an anesthesiologist who once heard some youngsters say "Grandpas don't snowboard." But they do now!

  • Gabriel Rubanenko is a 48-year old orthopedic surgeon who once pointed out the advantage of riding while older: "I feel the same as I did when I was 25 -- except I have more money."[Good for him! Riding does take some cash for boards, clothing, lift tickets, etc.]

  • Doug Taylor, 53, is an attorney who has been snowboarding since he was 41.

  • Dan Ulfig, 53, the owner of a commercial flooring company, took up riding in his 40s. Today he is a regular competitor in freestyle (trick) events.

  • Doug Wilson, (age unknown), is a Ph.D. who has taught business at the University of Southern California. He is the CEO of an investment firm and has experience as a business consultant.

They're Also Snowboard Instructors and Industry Leaders

  • Jim Brennan is a former ski jumper who took up snowboarding at age 54. That was in 1994. Of "grays on trays," he says "I love the term. I think it's the ultimate compliment. If we keep active, we can contribute to the participation. Everybody's gaining from it. Besides, most of the grays dye their hair anyway."

  • Charlie Clarke, 39, has been working in the snowsports school in Vail for 15 years.

  • Brian Fairbank, 64, is the chief snowboard instructor at Jiminy Peak, Maine. He started riding in his 50s.

  • Frank Helm, 64, started riding in 1992 because so many of the customers at his resort, Dodge Ridge, were snowboarders. "It's a great way to learn another way of sliding down the snow," he says.

  • Bob Hohne, 48, is the Dodge Ridge CFO. He says of snowboarding, "It's a lot of fun. If I can do it, anybody can."

  • John Ingersoll, a snowboard director at Mt. Bachelor, was a lifelong skier who started on a board at age 35, in 1989. He says that "I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," when he tried snowboarding. "It was such a good feeling. I was able to hold my edge through a GS (giant slalom) turn. I wasn't skilled enough to hold an edge through a whole turn on skis. I like riding a snowboard better than skiing. It's easier ... more fun. And I think it's easier on the knees."

  • Paula Li started teaching at Bear Valley Mountain Resort when she was 50.

  • Mary McKhann, the managing editor of The Snow Industry Letter, has been riding for over a decade. She started sometime in her 50s.

  • Bernard T. Milligan, 63, a snowboard instructor who took up the sport at age 60.

  • In 2001, Pat O'Donnell was 62 and president of the Aspen Ski Company when Ajax mountain was opened to snowboarders. The New York Times described him as an "an enthusiastic snowboarder."

  • Pat Moore, age 62 is the director of online sales for Suburban Sport, a shop in Connecticut. He is also a NASTAR competitor, having won national events in his age group in both snowboarding and skiing.

  • Doug Pfeiffer, 78, is a snowboard instructor from Big Bear, California.

  • Chickie Rosenberg, who started snowboarding in her 50s, now teaches people in their 40s how to ride. She's written a couple of books on the subject, too.

  • Tim Silva, 53, is a general manager at Northstar-at-Tahoe.

  • Wendy Woodward, 46, owns two snowboard shops in California.

They're parents who enjoy riding with their children

In the words of USA Today, "Once almost exclusively the domain of young males, [snowboarding is] drawing women, children and even grandparents."
  • Michael Berry, 52, is president of the National Ski Areas Association. He started riding to spend time with his 12-year old son.

  • A New York Times article featured the following riders: Bobby Diamon, 49, who rides with his 16 year old son); Billy Kelly, 56; and Karen Casey, 56, who rides with her 13 year old son.

  • Heather Jones began snowboarding at age 46, ten years after her daughter took up the sport at age 19. Says she: "I was a downhill skier for 30 years, but after learning to snowboard, I haven't touched my skis since."

  • Terri Kirkwood, 44, of Jackson Hole, WY (lucky her!) switched from skis to a snowboard at age 36, to keep up with her children.

  • Al Lachance, 75, took up riding at the age of 67. He had never been a skier, but he turned to riding as a way to enjoy the mountains with his grown-up daughter, who stayed on her skis.

  • Robin Oz, a self-described "middle-aged mother of four," dropped into the halfpipe at age 46.

  • Nancy Salie, 50, says "The one thing that I'm finding with snowboarding is that it's not just for young people. I enjoy it because it's something new and I'm learning to keep up with my daughter rather than have her keep up with me."

They're Ordinary ... and Extraordinary

  • A Minneapolis-based group of 30 women call themselves SnowBroads. Many are 50 or older.

  • George "Banana" Blair started snowboarding at age 78. Now he's 90.

  • Dave Fajen, gave up skiing for snowboarding, after two knee operations.

  • Mike Fine was a skier for 30 years before concluding that riding would be better for his health: "As I get older, my joints get sorer, and having undergone knee surgery in October, the thought of one of my Rossis [skis] going right and the other going left, and my binding possibly not releasing as I fly off a bump is downright frightening."

  • Suzanne Noli, 45, traded skis for a board at age 40.

  • Jill Osias, 60, is a grandmother who learned from Chickie Rosenberg.

  • Jane Ann Pease, 76, started riding at age 66. Today, she is a member of the ski patrol.

  • Tim Price learned how to ride at 59. He says that snowboarding "seems to be more of a youthful sport, and that's a shame, because it really is a lot of fun."

  • Julian Vogt started snowboarding at age 78. Now he's 93. Of his early lessons he says "I almost quit because I fell down so much. But then one day I had about 5 inches of powder and it was so easy."

  • James Zurcher, 71, is a retired police chief, says "I watched those young guys on the hill. They were so graceful, so in control. I said, I've got to try that."

They're Competitors

The United States of America Snowboard Association has 23 members over 60. Those are 23 snowboarders who are so good that they ride competitively.

The highest commendation of one's snowboarding skills may be an invitation to the Winter-X games.

During the 2005 Winter X games, 105 individuals were invited to participate in snowboarding competitions. Over 12 percent of those invited were 30 years old or older. Here they are: There are even a few members of the Grays on Trays population on the U.S. Snowboard Team. They are: Snowboard magazine listed the following 22 riders as being "Over 30 but not over the hill" (November 2005 issue). They were selected (one assumes) for their significant contributions to achievement in the sport.
  • Mike Basich
  • Tina Basich
  • Tom Burt
  • Shin Campos
  • Tara Dakides
  • Jessica Dalpiaz
  • Dave Downing
  • Chris Engelsman
  • Daniel Franck
  • Terje Haakonsen
  • Bryan Iguchi
  • Victoria Jealouse
  • Mikey Leblanc
  • Peter Line
  • Marc Frank Montoya
  • Axel Pauporte
  • JF Pelchat
  • Lance Pitman
  • Todd Richards
  • Kevin Sansalone
  • Peter Strom
  • Rio Tahara
As you can see from this page of pro and amateurs, snowboarding isn't just for kids anymore. Now go try it; odds are, someone your age is already out there on a board.

Discussion board

Do you know of any older snowboarders we should mention? Stop by the GraysOnTrays discussion board to add your comments or questions about older riders and snowboarding for adults.

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